In the morning of the next day,
When Liu Meng and Xiao Ning arrived at the east gate, Bai Yunfei had already been there for nearly an hour.
“Yunfei, I’m sorry for being late.” Liu Meng quickened her pace a bit, went up to Bai Yunfei and said with a face full of regret.
“Ha ha, it’s okay. I arrived not long ago too…” Bai Yunfei laughed in an unconcerned manner, not telling her that he had been waiting in the cold for several dozen minutes.
“Mister Yunfei, you can’t blame my young lady.” On one side, Xiao Ning cut in, “She was somewhat ill again this morning and only got a bit better after taking a dose of medicine I hurriedly prepared for her. Then she rushed over here right away.”
“Oh? Really? Meng’er, how are you feeling now? You’re not still sick, are you? Otherwise, let’s not go to that Mt. Qingquan today.” Bai Yunfei asked continuously in a slightly anxious manner, his expression changing a bit.
Liu Meng seemed not to have expected Bai Yunfei to react this way so she was slightly stupefied then said with smiling eyes: “I’m not so weak as you think. Don’t forget I’m a soul cultivator! Relax, I’m fine already. As long as my illness don’t act up, there won’t be any problem.”
“Oh, that’s very good, that’s very good…” Seeming to notice his own loss of composure, Bai Yunfei scratched his head in a somewhat embarrassed manner. Then, he seemed to remember something and hid his right hand behind his back. When he brought it out again, it was already holding a skewer of tanghulu.
“Meng’er, this is the tanghulu I specifically bought for you.” Seeing the slightly amazed expression on Liu Meng’s face, Bai Yunfei handed over the tanghulu smilingly.
“Yunfei, you, how did you know that I like eating tanghulu?” Liu Meng received it with a broad smile and asked curiously.
“Er, I saw that many girls on the streets all seemed to like eating tanghulu so I bought some for you.” Bai Yunfei told a little lie. Of course he did not dare to tell her that when they had met each other for the first time he had knocked down the tanghulu in her hand and that although he had bought another skewer for her, it had been knocked down by Zhang Yang as well…
“Humph, you’re so unfair, mister Yunfei. Could it be I’m not a girl? You only bought it for young lady, humph, humph, you must be up to something bad!” The servant girl Xiao Ning’s angry voice came from one side, causing him to be somewhat at a loss. His face even slightly reddened.
“He he, I’m just kidding. Please don’t get angry at me, mister Yunfei!” Seeing Bai Yunfei’s embarrassed manner, Xiao Ning stuck out her tongue a bit and said mischievously.
Bai Yunfei gave a couple of dry laughs but did not know how to respond to this servant girl. He could only say to Liu Meng: “Er, ha ha, Meng’er, let’s go then…”
“Alright, let’s go.”
Grass, flowers, trees, birds, springs, breezes…
For the first time, Bai Yunfei felt that climbing up a mountain was such a joyful thing. Speaking of it, now he could also be considered a ‘veteran mountain climber’. He himself did not even know how many mountains he had climbed over on the way since leaving Luoshi City, but he had always climbed mountains to speed up his journey and to flee for his life instead of to carefully enjoy the experience like this today.
Or perhaps, what made him feel joyful was not the scenery on this mountain at all, but the person going by his side…
Bai Yunfei took a bowl of clear spring water, went towards Liu Meng, who was waiting under a tree, handed it over to her and said: “Meng’er, are you tired? If you are, let’s rest here for a while, okay?”
“Ha ha, what if I’m not?” Liu Meng received the bowl, drank a small mouthful and said gently, “You’ve forgotten again that I’m a soul cultivator. Walking such a short distance is nothing to me. Let’s continue to go up. We’ll reach the peak of the mountain before noon.”
Bai Yunfei received the bowl, which she gave back to him, and drank up all the remaining spring water in one gulp. On one side, when Liu Meng saw this action, her face slightly reddened.
“Oh, in that case I have no objection. We…”
“I… I have, I have my objection!!” An angry and panting voice came from behind the two of them. They turned around to take a look and saw that the servant girl Xiao Ning was ‘moving’ up towards them step by step with her body bent and arms akimbo.
“Young, young lady, mister Yunfei… You two, you two are really inconsiderate!” Xiao Ning went up to them with great difficulty and gasped for air with her mouth opened wide. At the same time, she pouted and said discontentedly: “Both of you think you can leave me behind just because, just because you’re soul cultivators huh? I’m so, I’m so tired…”
Bai Yunfei and Liu Meng exchanged a look and were both embarrassed. As Bai Yunfei looked at a pouting, discontented-looking Xiao Ning, he rolled his eyes and a tinge of amusement showed up.
“Meng’er, why don’t we have a speed contest to see who can reach the peak of the mountain first?” Bai Yunfei suggested to Liu Meng smilingly.
The latter was stupefied for a moment but then she reacted by casting a glance at Xiao Ning, a tinge of mischievousness unexpectedly also appearing in her eyes, and saying with a nod: “Alright, let’s have a contest then, but… you have to let run first!”
To Bai Yunfei’s surprise, as soon as those words were finished, she ran forwards before he could react, causing a fragrant wind that blew past him. Her clothes flapping in the air, Liu Meng rushed up the mountian extremely fast like a graceful, blue-clad elf.
In fact, Bai Yunfei was only dumbfounded for a moment before reacting, but he did not chase after her immediately. Instead, he waited until she had run quite a distance away before casting a look at a still somewhat bewildered Xiao Ning and rushing upwards with a couple of laughs.
“Hey hey!! Young lady! Mister Yunfei!! You two, you two are too inconsiderate!”
Xiao Ning’s angry shouts came from behind. At the same time, Liu Meng’s lovely laughter also floated down from up above along with the wind. Giving a couple of laughs, Bai Yunfei ran towards the top of the mountain.
At this moment, he experienced an unprecedented state of relaxation and happiness.
At the peak of the mountain, Bai Yunfei and Liu Meng were sitting side by side on the grass, gazing at the large expanse of grass and trees down below. Both of them were silent.
A clear wind blew past them, causing several strands of her hair to fly into his face, tickling it. When Liu Meng noticed this, she smiled at Bai Yunfei and used her hands to tuck those flowing strands of hair behind her ears.
“Thank you, Yunfei…” Liu Meng was the one who broke the silence, saying softly while gazing at a passing bird.
“Oh? Why did you say this again? Didn’t I already tell you, yesterday…”
“Not only yesterday, but also today.” Before Bai Yunfei could finish what he was saying, he was interrupted by Liu Meng. She shook her head gently and continued: “Thank you for going out to relieve boredom with me. The only person who normally goes with me is Xiao Ning. Though she’s my servant girl, she’s like a sister to me… But aside from her, I’ve almost never made friends with anyone. Previously, my body was too weak for me to do that, but later, because the people who approached me had bad intentions, I was unwilling to make friends.
“You know what? Though I’m a soul cultivator, I can’t live my life the way I want to…” Fiddling with the blades of grass in front of her using her hands, Liu Meng said slowly: “To shake off the illnesses in my body, I’ve been spending most of my time on cultivation. I occasionally went out for a stroll, but I only did this to loosen up myself when I reached a plateau.
“My father… He’s a merchant. He can use any means to expand his business, even including making use of my marriage…
“The Glacial School in the northeast part of Qingyun Province has an elder with the surname Liu… My father somehow managed to dig up a groundless trace of kinship with him and wanted to be backed by the Glacial School in business.
“Afterwards, he fawned on another elder of the Glacial School called Zhang Zhenshan and began to do business with the Zhang family in Luoshi City. This made him especially excited. To increase the closeness between the two families, he betrothed me to the young master of that Zhang family, Zhang Yang.
“I was only fourteen at the time so I simply couldn’t object to this. My father wouldn’t allow me to object to this either, so I had no choice but to hope that I can reach the Soul Sprite stage early. At that time, I’ll have the power to refuse…
“After that, Zhang Yang often tried to approach me. I could tell that he did this only because of his filthy self-interest.
“But the relationship between my father and the Zhang family became closer and closer. That family is powerful and can’t be offended. In the end, I even had to go to Luoshi City frequently to visit my ‘future’ parents-in-law…”
When saying these words, Liu Meng’s voice contained a lot of frustration and grief. However, at this point she changed the topic, continuing:
“But a few days ago, my father received information that… Zhang Yang had unexpectedly been killed the day before!”